The Golden Handshake
Posted by Chris
After the last few years of steady investment in gold the world wide rise in prices the get rich quick mob of opportunist’s have left the building, like rats deserting the sinking ship …… Or so it would seem.
Cyprus is rumored to have to sell of some of its gold reserves some £341 worth if the tattle is to be believed. The current dip in prices can’t have anything to do with the old money market maxim ‘buy low and sell big’ now can it after all they are known for their scrupulous fair minded practices and of course we all know that they are above market fixing practices, now aren’t they.
The last worrying trend of metal thefts in Britain of non precious metals is an area for concern as all ferrous metals erode by oxidation, this unless plating is used or oil coatings, or even diesel submerged stores ‘bathing’ (no oxygen and water no erosion) is being applied, will result in the extinction of all manufacturing grade metals eventually. Some countries will produce higher corrosion rates than others but the inevitable is still only a matter of time. This is a limited renewable source at best with a sharp decrease in new deposits being found.
Precious metals on the other hand are a more or less fixed commodity. What we have is more or less what we will have at the end of days, with a limit on how much can still be mined. The current world gold reserves would if they were all smelted could fit into a cube with sides of just 20m that’s just 67ft in the old yardstick lingo.
The existing mines will yield their last reserves and new sources are becoming harder to find. Gold deposits with lesser yields will probably never be mined for economic reasons, but if non precious reserves keep rusting away existing stockpiles, economics may well not figure in the final decision to mine unprofitable low yield reserves.
Science that great pretender to invention has promised for decades if not centuries the production of new manufacturing materials to replace the use of metals ………. Still waiting on that one then.
The more it changes the more that it remains the same. Bricks and mortar, steel and concrete are still with us and have seen of all contenders except breeze blocks (mortar blocks?), skyscrapers and modern office blocks are still using steel erectors and concrete and have also seen of the most pretentious contenders of the last few decades except glass. With no real new innovations coming from the development labs of the industry elite engineer think tanks, for the building industry at least the more that it changes the more that it remains the same. The only area for improvement in material development has been in the area of first and second fixings (doors, windows, kitchens, plumbing, wiring and bathrooms), the innovations have been around a select few materials. Chipboard being the most widely used material with a wealth of cladding to satisfy the high demands of the modern home maker. We have also come a long way from clay drainage pipes, old fashioned cisterns and with the advent of better water closets, the leaps forward have been minimal to say the least. Wiring is no longer embedded in the walls for easy access for repairs and rewiring jobs. All cabling is still copper as is water and gas pipes, so little change there then.
White goods manufacturing and new technologies are all progressive, the new touch screen developments have helped replace the old cathode screens and produced flatter smaller smart devices.
The worlds natural resources are still on diminishing returns, coal, stone, slate and minerals are all fixed supplies, while replenishable sources like wood and plants are reduced to available arable landmasses. Wood is still not renewable at a fast enough rate to provide shelter for a growing population. This is subsidised by the use of salvage, bricks, stone and wood. The whole idea of conservation is not a new concept and reusable materials have not had any new innovations. Glass is returned and is almost completely replaced as containers, bottles are still used widely for pressure containers and long term storage, wine whiskey etc. The advent of the electronic office will free up some of the paper production wood supply and rag may yet have its day in this field but all in all no really great big innovations.
The last area is the dreaded plastics the modern Pandora’s box of least reusable materials there are, they cannot be mixed well and have to be graded to match, they are useless with dyes or other exotic additives. The complex process has left a great deal of plastics still going into landfill or being burned. In 2010, 9.2 billion tons of plastic were recycled, including 5.3 billion pounds of post-industrial scrap, and 3.7 billion pounds of post-consumer material. The U.S. exported $940 million worth of plastic scrap in 2010. This industry still has a long way to go.
No matter how much we use other materials, from plastics to paper, we are still reduced to using copper at a wide rate of dispersal in the electric and electronic industries. This metal has always been recycled and degrades at a slower pace than ferrous metals and the corrosion is self sealing the oxidised area protects the covered area. Brass is the sole exception in that all brass industry in Britain is 100% recycled as it is considered a waste of copper resources.
All in all we are looking at limited resources in a finite world and need to create better preservation methods.
A true test of metal is still to come.